The Jessamine County Board of Education ironed out some details of expanded drug testing at Monday’s meeting but still has a few wrinkles to work on.
Board members had asked district officials to consider more testing after some low figures in last year’s testing and questions about less severe penalties for athletes who were singled out for testing instead of being randomly selected.
Last year on each high-school testing date, 20 names at each school were pulled randomly from a pool of all the drivers and athletes. The testings occurred five times at West Jessamine High School and seven times at East Jessamine High School.
The board asked Monday to expand high-school testing to six to eight test dates each year with five drivers and 12 athletes tested each time.
Less than 50 percent of the West Jessamine High School students whose named were pulled last year were tested. Chief of staff Matt Moore said Monday that some loopholes allowed students to avoid testing if they were not present, including some who were in class at Jessamine Career and Technology Center. A recommendation for the new policy suggests that a student who is not present when his or her name is pulled would be tested the following school day.
District athletic director Ken Cox told board members Monday night that names of randomly selected students are delivered to a single contact at each school several days in advance of the testing. The names are given ahead of time so administrators can plan how to schedule the day of the testing.
Moore will be “shadowing” the whole drug-testing process this year, superintendent Lu Young said, and making sure safeguards against leaks are in place.
“I don’t really worry too much that the names are leaked in any way because we are so tight on federal requirements for confidentiality — anything that has student names on it, they’re pretty careful about,” Young said.
The total cost of the expanded testing will be between $7,500 and $10,000, according to the district. It will also include testing at middle schools and The Providence School, as well as a provision to reduce the likelihood that students who have been tested multiple times will be tested again in the same school year.
With general agreement among board members on the expanded testing, discussion during Monday’s meeting moved to questions of implementation and penalties.
The district’s code of conduct allows selective testing of students when there is reasonable suspicion they are using drugs, but athletes who test non-negative via that route are not currently subject to mandatory athletics suspensions. Board members asked the district to consider closing that “loophole” that can allow athletes who test non-negative to continue to play their sports.
The board also discussed adding athletes to the drug-testing pool for an entire year, meaning spring-sport athletes — who aren’t selected until February — would be subject to the testing in the fall of the following year.
Young said most of the changes discussed were procedural and could be put into place immediately. Any changes to specifications in policy would come to the board for approval.